Five years after the publication of the military sci-fi thriller Darklight I: The Substance of Shadows, comes the second installment in the series, Darklight II: Conflagration, the continuation of the conflicts between human and Matarin rebels and the genocidal Cren Empire.
The stakes have considerably risen since mathematician and rebel fighter Crash Tyson first encountered the billions-year-old Cren Empire in the battle against the equally ancient ESOG Empire. The remaining freedom fighters seek a new sanctuary where they can rebuild their fleet and enhance the Spatial Exclusion Wave technology that Tyson created. They find safe haven with the Skarr, a species that had battled the Luin—the telepathic race controlling the Cren Empire—many eons ago.
The Skarr hold an advantage: the Luin believe them extinct, along with the Sargen and the Valm, two species that had fought alongside the Skarr. Tyson, however, has the distinct disadvantage of being the Cren Empire’s sole focus, with his capture worth the destruction of billions of their own warriors.
What warrants such galactic wastage? Tyson is the Progenitor Being, the model human that P-Quan, the Cren governor, created as an experiment in accelerating human genetic evolution in order to generate someone capable of solving The Great Problem. It is with this experiment that Wells compels us to consider the purpose of sentient life in the Universe. The nature of that problem serves as a teaser until late in the game, when the conflict escalates into a war of multi-dimensional magnitude.
The depiction of intergalactic war and its futuristic weaponry is where author Wells excels. The astrophysics and engineering of such advanced technology is at once mind-boggling and wholly believable. As E.E. Smith’s works (1890 – 1965) that explored the universe outside of our solar system with fictional technologies, extra-dimensional beings, and time travel before NASA, string theory, or the Hubble Telescope, the Darklight series take readers beyond the confines of the known universe and into mind-boggling technologies that venture into multi-dimensional applications of universal cataclysmic potential.
Warfare comprises much of the story, with telepathic and directed-energy combat filling the gaps between massive, planet-destroying battles. Brisk pacing keeps readers enthralled as other ancient species join the fight, and each apparent victory sees a new threat emerge—none more so than the thousand-mile-long rift in space created by the increasingly powerful weaponry used on both sides.
Wells explores the connection of life with the ultimate fate of the universe itself and sentient life’s connection to that fate in his Darklight series. When the godlike being that dwells on the other side of the rift raises the stakes to an unfathomable level, the stage is set for the next Darklight installment.
If you enjoy E.E. Smith’s space operas that influenced the first generation of computer war games, and (some say) the authors of Earthlight, Star Wars, Babylon 5, and Superman, then venture forth into the Darklight series to expand your universe.